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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Deletion of the alpha1 or beta2 subunit of GABAA receptors reduces actions of alcohol and other drugs.

Enhancement of the activation of GABAA receptors is a common feature of many sedative and hypnotic drugs, and it is probable that the GABAA receptor complex is a molecular target for these drugs in the mammalian central nervous system. We set out to elucidate the role of the two predominant (alpha1 and beta2) subunits of GABAA receptor in sedative drug action by studying mice lacking these two subunits. Both alpha1 (-/-) and beta2 (-/-) null mutant mice showed markedly decreased sleep time induced by nonselective benzodiazepine, flurazepam, and GABAA agonist, 4,5,6,7-tetrahydroisoxazolo(5,4-c)pyridin-3-ol. The sleep time induced by the beta-selective drug etomidate was decreased only in beta2 (-/-) knockout mice. In contrast, alpha1 (-/-) mice were more resistant to the alpha1-selective drug zolpidem than beta2 (-/-) or wild-type animals. Knockout mice of both strains were similar to wild-type mice in their responses to pentobarbital. The duration of loss of the righting reflex produced by ethanol was decreased in male mice for both null alleles compared with wild-type mice, but there were no differences in ethanol-induced sleep time in mutant females. Deletion of either the alpha1 or beta2 subunits reduced the muscimol- stimulated 36Cl36 influx in cortical microsacs suggesting that these mutant mice have reduced number of functional brain GABAA receptors. Our results show that removal of either alpha1 or beta2 subunits of GABAA receptors produce strong and selective decreases in hypnotic effects of different drugs. Overall, these data confirm the crucial role of the GABAA receptor in mechanisms mediating sedative/hypnotic effects.[1]


  1. Deletion of the alpha1 or beta2 subunit of GABAA receptors reduces actions of alcohol and other drugs. Blednov, Y.A., Jung, S., Alva, H., Wallace, D., Rosahl, T., Whiting, P.J., Harris, R.A. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. (2003) [Pubmed]
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